Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Caerphilly - My Favourite Cheese

by Gavin @ The Greening of Gavin

As you probably already know, I am a confessed Curd Nerd. I love making cheese, and of late my favourite cheese is Caerphilly. I have joined two of my original posts together so you get the entire process and result end to end. I have used both metric and imperial measurements to make it easier for everyone around the world without having to go to the trouble of converting.

I was yearning for a cheese that would be on the table quickly, so I chose Caerphilly. It has Welsh origins, and is a lightly pressed, salty cheese that ripens in 3 weeks.

Here is a bit of history about Caerphilly from Wikipedia;

Caerphilly cheese is a hard, white cheese that originates in the area around the town of Caerphilly in Wales, although it is now also made in England, particularly in the South West and on the English border with Wales. It was not originally made in Caerphilly, but was sold at the market there, hence taking the town's name.

Caerphilly is a light-coloured (almost white), crumbly cheese made from cow's milk, and generally has a fat content of around 48%. It has a mild taste, with its most noticeable feature being a not unpleasant slightly sour tang.

It is rumoured that the cheese was developed over time to provide the coal miners of the area with a convenient way of replenishing the salt lost through hard work over ten hour shifts underground and so was a staple of the diet of the coal miners.
So here is my method for making it. I used the recipe out of Making Artisan Cheese by Tim Smith and modified it a little.

7.5 litres whole milk (2 gallons)
1 quarter teaspoon (about 2 ml) mesophillic culture
1 eighth teaspoon (about 1 ml) calcium chloride diluted in 60ml (¼ cup) cool unchlorinated water
1 half teaspoon (about 3 ml) liquid rennet diluted in 60ml (¼ cup) cool unchlorinated water
2 tablespoons non-ionised salt

Heat milk to 32°C (90°F) user double boiler (I use a smaller saucepan under the large pot).

Add the diluted calcium chloride if you are using homogenised milk. Stir for a minute. Then add the starter culture and stir for another minute. Cover and let rest for thirty minutes at target temperature.

Maintaining the temp of 32°C (90°F), start stirring, then add the diluted rennet to the milk, stir for two minutes, then cover. Let mixture sit for forty minutes at the target temperature, or until you get a clean break (which can be up to 60 minutes).

Cut the curds into 6mm (¼ inch) cubes, keeping the size as uniform as possible.

Slowly raise the temp to 33°C (92°F); this should take about ten minutes. Hold the curd at the target temp for forty minutes and be sure to stir frequently to keep the curds from matting. Let rest at target temp for five minutes.

Drain the curds into a cheese cloth lined colander, and let whey drain for a 5 minutes. Cut the curds into 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick slabs, and stack on top of one another. Turn the stack over, top to bottom, two times in ten minutes. This will assist in draining a lot of whey from the curd and is a basic form of cheddaring.

Using your clean hands, break the curds into thumbnail-sized pieces, and blend with salt.

Fill a cheese cloth-lined 1kg (2 pound) cheese mould with the salted curds.

Cover the curd with one corner of the cheese cloth, lay the follower on top, and press at 5kg (10 pounds) for ten minutes.

Remove the cheese from the press, take it out of the mould, and unwrap the cheese cloth. Turn the cheese, and rub a layer of salt on both top and bottom before rewrapping with cheese cloth. Press at 5kg (10 pounds) for ten minutes. Repeat the same procedure (salt), pressing at 7.5 kg (15 pounds) for twenty minutes. Repeat the same procedure, pressing at 7.5 kg (15 pounds) for sixteen hours. I finished this stage at 6 pm on a Saturday evening, so I had to wait until 10 am Sunday morning for the next part of the process.

Take the cheese out of the cheese mould, and let it air dry on a cheese mat and cheese board for about 3-4 days. Make sure you turn the cheese several times a day to ensure even drying and fat distribution.

When the cheese is dry to touch, it is ready to be ripened. Place in your cheese cave at 13ºC (55ºF) at 80-85% humidity for three weeks, turning several times a week. No need to wax this cheese. It will form a rind, and if any mould develops, simply rub the cheese with cloth dipped in some salty water. The salt in this cheese should retard mould growth anyway.

At this time of the year in Australia, you could find a cold cupboard to ripen your cheese in if you don't have a fridge that you can get warm enough.

So after only 3 weeks, Caerphilly is one fantastically tasty cheese I have ever made. Here is the finished product.

It has a rind that is about 5mm thick and it tastes divine. There is a little white and blue mould bloom on the surface which I think is a bit of cross contamination from when I was making 2 cheeses at once or from the cheese cave, but no matter because it adds to the exquisite flavour of the rind.

The middle is white, contains a little moisture, and is slightly crumbly. I cracked open the wheel on the Saturday night, but then realised that it was only 15 days old, and should have matured for until 21 days. The damage was done, but I put half of the wheel back into the cheese cave for to see what it tastes like at full maturity. At 21 days it has a slightly stronger flavour and the rind is a little thicker.

Kim (my lovely wife) believes that the rind tastes like Edam, and the middle has is similar flavour but not as strong. More crumbly than Edam though, but really, really nice with a plain water cracker biscuit. I think the crumbly centre tastes more like a mild cheddar, but each to their own. Everyone's taste buds are different.

The top and sides were a bit swollen, but that was just from natural 'eye' development as the cheese matured. You can see small eyes in the second photo.

It is so good that I have made three more wheels since my first effort. With only three weeks maturation and very edible at 15 days, I highly recommend it if you are into cheese making and want a quick result or are just starting out and want to give a hard cheese a try.

If you would like recipes to other cheeses I have made, just pop over to my personal blog, The Greening of Gavin, and have a look through the tutorials on the right hand side bar.

Enjoy, and I hope I have convinced a few of you to become curd nerds just like me!